Spurred by the lobbying effort of Missoula Independent publisher Matt Gibson, a bill extending legal-notice advertising to free-circulation newspapers passed the Montana state legislature yesterday. The bill must now be signed by Governor Brian Schweitzer to become law. Ironically, Gibson's primary opposition was the Montana Newspaper Association, for which he serves as a member of the board of directors. According to Gibson, a former member of the AAN Board, "AAN publishers need to be alerted to the practical reality that a periodical mailing permit, as commonly required in legal notice statutes, accomplishes very little to protect the people’s right to know. It does not ensure minimum reach or distribution, nor does it require independent verification of circulation. It's superfluous, and legislators can be convinced to change to law."